Shining the Spotlight: Online Consumerism

By Val Cocksedge

NCWQ Consumer Affairs Adviser

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In comparing health insurers, Choice obtains an extract of data used on www. privatehealth.gov.au and analyses over 25,000 health insurance policies, assigning them a percentage score based on how well the policies compare against their competitors. They then publish only the best private health insurance policies.

Comparison website ‘Compare the Market’ known for its meerkat salesman has been fined $10,200 by the ACCC for falsely claiming in its advertising that “it compares more health funds than anywhere else”.

Protect Your Good Name. Identity theft won’t go away so we need to be vigilant.

Protect Your Snail Mail – With the sensitive details contained in your letter box, a thief can buy goods online, open bank accounts or even take out a loan. Lock your letterbox when absent for a length of time, ask the Post Office to hold your mail. Disposing bank letters, bank slips in the bin allows thieves to gain access to your details – shred papers or have them emailed.

Change passwords regularly – email, bank Pins, wireless internet, phone banking. Many people have several passwords to remember which protect important information.

Check your statements. Read through bank and credit card statements carefully to ensure no fraudulent transactions have been made.

It is quite common to be contacted by telemarketers from companies you deal with and some you don’t. Sometimes it is not easy to tell a scam call from the real call from Telstra or other company. You might hear “there’s a fault with your computer and you need to pay for technical support or software” “I’m from Telstra or named company and your internet will soon be disconnected” If you’re suspicious about the call end the conversation immediately. Never give bank or credit card details.

Choice has stepped up call for the federal government to ditch ineffective anti-privacy policies such as the internet filter which makes the internet more expensive while not reducing piracy. A TV ad was launched on September 1 explaining the opposition to the filter. Australians pay up to 50% more than people in other countries for software and digitally distributed products such as music and movies according to a recent IT Pricing Inquiry Report. Watch the ad and join the campaign at www.choice.com.au/smartnothard.

Samsung has suspended business with a factory in China while it is investigating reports that children are being used on the assembly line.

Following the deregulation of travel agents, Choice has reached agreements with state and territory governments for a new Consumer Travel Hub project. With a planned launch in late 2014, the hub will identify issues with travel providers, products and services and bring these issues to the attention of governments, regulators and industry.

The ATO and ACCC are warning consumers not to fall for the latest outreach of phone and email scammers who pose as government officials. Since the beginning of 2014, $300,000 has been lost to “crooks” posing as bureaucrats, claiming you have overpaid your tax and now entitled to a refund, they ask first for administrative or transfer fee and then request your financial details in order to transfer the refund. Government agencies do not ask for money upfront in return for a refund.

Unit pricing is intended to look past the marketing and to say what you are actually paying. The Queensland Consumer Association advises you to look closely.

The Code requires the unit rice to be prominent to be in close proximity to the selling price the item, to be legible and unambiguous. Ten tips to consider on how to shop by unit pricing – compare unit prices of different brands of same product, look at pack sizes, special offers, loose or pre-packaged products, elaborate package sub packs (e.g. individual servings/packets within a pack), the same product in different forms (e.g. chilled, frozen, fresh, canned), substitute and alternative products, products in different stores in your area as well as online. To gain more information or to complain about inadequate information call The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Unit Pricing Hotline on 1300 746 245.

Infinity Cable Co. sold 4000 km. of “dodgy” wiring to wholesalers and retailers between 2010 and 2013. The cable which could become brittle, then pose a fire and electrocution risk has been estimated at a cost of $80 million. Those wholesalers and retailers have to pay the bill because Infinity Cable is in liquidation.

Woolworths faces a bill of at least $35 million mostly due to Masters sales. A Masters Deed of Release seeks to limit its future liability and prohibits a home or business owner from speaking publicly about their dealings with the hardware chain under threat of legal action. The ACCC is currently seeking further information from Masters on the circumstances and extent of their use of the “deed”

Branded apps are bombarding children’s minds with products and logos at the rate of dozens per second according to a new research. It shows branded apps are influencing your young people at unprecedented levels, with researches calling for increased regulation on advertising that goes “under the radar”

The recent reformed QBSA now the Queensland Building Compliance (QBC) prides itself on assisting customers with expert advice on building compliance issues, large and small. The experienced team can help with – Building disputes, Early Dispute Resolution, Identifying defective and non-compliant building work, Building Reports, Expert Witness Assistance is given to Owners, Builders, Contractors and are experts in early dispute resolution to help avoid contractual dispute and costly rectification if the work is defective.

 

 

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